by Samuel Sukhnandan
One day after the High Court ruled that the votes from the national recount must be used to declare the results of the March, 2020 general and regional elections, A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) agent Ms. Misengna Jones has filed an appeal to challenge that decision.
In citing the reasons for the appeal, Ms. Jones, through her attorney Mayo Robertson, said that Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire erred in law when she held that the issues raised in the case and the constitutionality of Section 22 of the Elections Amendment Act were both res judicata.
But in handing down her judgement on Monday, Guyana’s Chief Justice said that the Guyana Court of Appeal has already pronounced on the issue, and that she was bound to follow that decision, pointing out that the applicant did not provide the High Court with any basis for that point to be reexamined.
The appeal is also challenging the Chief Justice’s ruling in relation to jurisdiction, and paragraphs 106 and 107 of the judgement of the majority of the Court of Appeal in the Ulita Moore versus Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), saying that she misconstructed that ruling.
However, the Chief Justice on Monday said she based her judgement on decisions by the Guyana Court of Appeal and the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The appeal claims that the Chief Justice also failed to find that the chairman of GECOM and or GECOM had acted outside their constitutional and or statutory powers failed to properly construe the terms and provisions of Order 60 of 2020 and that that very order was invalid. Further, the court also failed to consider that GECOM had exceeded its constitutional and statutory power when it issued and established and executed Order 60 of 2020.
The Chief Justice said arguments by Ms. Jones lawyer and Attorney General, Basil Williams that Order 60 is unconstitutional were “hopelessly invalid.”
She had also chided those who were seeking re-litigate public interest cases when the questions have been settled already by the courts and noted that Order 60 that facilitated the GECOM’s recount of votes cast in the general and regional elections four months ago is valid.
The Chief Justice made it clear that “the 10 declarations cannot be resurrected at this point in time.” She said only the recount data can be used to declare the results of the polls and that the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield is subject to the direction and control of the Chairman and the GECOM as he is a mere functionary.
“The appeal is challenging the entirety of the Chief Justice’s judgment delivered on Monday, on several other grounds.